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Manuscript

  • Place of origin:

    Lombardy, Italy (illuminated)

  • Date:

    ca. 1450 (illuminated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Master of the Franciscan Breviary (attributed, illuminator)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Water-based pigments and gold-leaf on parchment

  • Museum number:

    4925

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval and Renaissance, room 10, case 2

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This illuminated initial O contains an image of Saint Francis showing the stigmata, the five wounds of Christ, that he received during a vision in which a seraph, a six-winged angel, appeared to him on a cross. According to the account by Brother Leo, he was praying on Mount Verna during a forty day fast in preparation for Michaelmas when he had the vision.

Medieval books had no contents page or index and so there was usually a hierarchy of initials marking important divisions in the text or music. The most important initials might be historiated with a figurative picture (istoire being the term for a story) or images of saints as seen here, while divisions of lesser importance had decorated initials.

The Master of the Budapest Antiphonary is named after a Franciscan manuscript in the National Library of Budapest (MS Clmae 462) which dates to around 1444-1450. This artist is sometimes confused with the Master of the Franciscan Breviary (named after MS 337 in Biblioteca Universitaria, Bologna), whose career and style overlap.

Physical description

Cut-out historiated initial O from a choirbook. The initial is blue with mock Arabic lettering on a panel of burnished gold. Inside is St Francis displaying his stigmata surrounded by gold rays. In three of the four corners of the panel are floral decorations, in blue, red, pink and green.

Place of Origin

Lombardy, Italy (illuminated)

Date

ca. 1450 (illuminated)

Artist/maker

Master of the Franciscan Breviary (attributed, illuminator)

Materials and Techniques

Water-based pigments and gold-leaf on parchment

Dimensions

Height: 12.2 cm, Width: 13.1 cm

Object history note

From a portfolio bought by the Museum in 1866 from J. & W. Boone.

Historical significance: In Italy, illuminated choirbooks and liturgical manuscripts contained the work of a large number of miniature painters. Choirbooks in particular were produced in sets of many volumes (often more than 30). From the early 19th century onwards such choirbooks provided an easy source of images that connoisseurs eagerly sought to add to their collections of paintings. Manuscripts could be cut up to make them more marketable and pleasing to the collector. Single leaves survive, but also initials, as here, cut to shape.

Historical context note

Data taken from notes compiled by Rowan Watson. The full text of the entry is as follows:

'Cat. CHOIR BOOK; Italy, c. 1500. (4925,4928 [stolen 1984], 4918.2-9, 4921.2-4)

Cat. no 353/2
4925 (MS 1167)
CHOIR BOOK
Cut-out historiated O (St Francis displaying stigmata mock-arabic lettering on letter-shape, attributed to the Master of Budapest Antiohoner)

Italy. c. 1500
120 x 125 mm.

From an album containing 4916-4928 bought for £15 from J & W Boone, 1866
Pub: 1908 cat, 93; 1923 cat, 86; Todini 1996, p.51

[Note from Anna Melograni re: 4925 (2/5/07):-
Date: 1450 ca.
Place: Lounbardy

Attributed to the Master of the Franciscan Breviary by Filippo Todini in this catalogue
'Miniature: La Spezia, Murseo Cirico Amedo Lia,' Published 1996. The manuscript is reproduced on page 51.]

Descriptive line

Historiated initial O from a choirbook, St. Francis displaying stigmata, attributed to the Master of the Franciscan Breviary; Italy; ca.1450.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Watson, Rowan. Illuminated manuscripts and their makers. London: V&A Publications, 3002. 144 p., ill. ISBN 185177385.
Illustrated and referred to in the text, p. 56.
Todini, Filippo, ed. Miniature: La Spezia, Museo civico Amedeo Lia. Fondazione Casa di Risparmo della Spezia, 1996. 334 p., ill. ISBN 8882150267.
p. 51.

Exhibition History

Medieval and Renaissance Galleries (Victoria and Albert Museum 01/01/2009-31/12/2009)

Labels and date

ST FRANCIS DISPLAYING THE STIGMATA
About 1450

St Francis received the stigmata (the five
wounds of Christ) during a vision in which
a seraph or six-winged angel appeared to
him on a cross. He was praying on Mount
Verna during a 40-day fast when he had
the vision.

Italy, Lombardy
Watercolour on parchment,
with gold
Museum no. 4925 [2009]

Production Note

Attributed to the Master of the Budapest Antiphonary by Levi d'Ancona in a manuscript note on the mount.

Attributed to the Master of the Francisan Breviary by Filippo Todini in his catalogue 'Miniature: La Spezia, Museo Civico Amedo Lia'; published 1996. The manuscript is reproduced on page 51.

Anna Melograni dates the cutting to ca 1450 and attribution place to Lombardy.

Materials

Gold leaf; Pigment; Parchment

Techniques

Illumination

Subjects depicted

Monks; Francis (Saint)

Categories

Religion; Christianity; Manuscripts

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O90814
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